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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Review: Joy’s Teaspoon Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling Tea

© 2011 A.C. Cargill photos and text – All rights reserved.
No copying, posting on other sites, or other uses allowed without written permission of the copyright holder.

The Subject:  Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling
Company:Joy’s Teaspoon. [More info]

Straight Tea Rating:

About the new rating designation.

Water temperature:203-212° F (we also tried a steep at 180˚ F)
Steeping time:4-5 mins. (we also tried a steep at 3 and 3½ mins.)
Tea type:Darjeeling
Dry leaves:  Broken leaf, dark brown to coppery, mild aroma

Round A-1st Infusion:
Steeping time —4 mins.
Aroma, plain —Rich nutty/fruity
Taste, plain —Too strong, should be a bit more delicate
Color, plain —Dark amber
Round B-1st Infusion:
Steeping time —3 mins.
Aroma, plain —  Muscatel character
Taste, plain —Mild, not bitter, muscatel aftertaste, overall pale
Color, plain —Amber
Round B-2nd Infusion:
Steeping time —3½ mins.
Aroma, plain —  Lighter
Taste, plain —Lighter
Color, plain —Light amber

The vendor describes this tea as an early 2nd Flush Darjeeling and explains that this is tea picked at the beginning of the tea bushes regrowing after the 1st Flush harvest.

A word about the steeping instructions supplied by the vendor. The website says 203-212° F for 4-5 minutes. Considering that both the water temperature and steeping time are more than what we have often done for other Darjeelings, we hesitated. However, one of the things that the Little Yellow Teapot insists on is that we try the tea at first using whatever steeping instructions the vendor provides. After that, he lets us experiment. (Sigh! We have to keep him happy or the tea we steep in him might come out bitter.)

We did two steeping “rounds” with two separate batches of tea leaves. Round A was done following the vendor’s recommendation for water temp and steeping time. Round B was done at 180˚ F for 3 minutes the 1st infusion and 3½ minutes the 2nd infusion.

Round A is on the left, and Round B is on the right.

I know what you’re thinking: “Geez, these people must like milk in everything!” Well, not quite. We wouldn’t have tried milk in this tea except that our first steeping (Round A) was rather strong for a Darjeeling, but we didn’t want to waste it. So why not try it with milk? The result was actually rather pleasant.

As Darjeelings go, this one is not bad but not the best. What we do like about it is the flexibility it affords you, the discriminating tea drinker. You can steep it according to the vendor’s instructions and have a rather strong-tasting tea suitable for whatever you like to add to your tea, from honey to lemon to milk and sugar. Or you can cut back on the temp and time to get a lighter taste and a mild character. Freedom of choice. What more could you ask for?

Little Yellow Teapot insisted on wearing what he calls his “award sash” (it’s really a tea-dyed headband from CrafTEA Designs). Anything to keep him happy.

Disclaimer: This tea was provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are always strictly objective.

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